Runners during the Bob Adams City Track and Field Championship at Gordie Howe Sports Complex in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, May 30, 2019.
Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix
A federal-provincial dispute over infrastructure funding is resonating beyond upgrades to the Gordie Howe Sports Complex and the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan site.Saskatoon Transit director Jim McDonald expressed concern and frustration at Tuesday’s meeting of city council’s transportation committee over the possibility the rift could affect money earmarked to replace buses.Deputy Premier Gord Wyant, a former Saskatoon city councillor, has warned that the provincial Saskatchewan Party government could decline to fund Saskatoon’s Shakespeare and Gordie Howe projects.The provincial government wants to use money intended for transit to fund the two Saskatoon projects and another in Regina, so a $56-million pot of recreation and culture funding can be used for other projects in smaller Saskatchewan communities.“We’re still making those final determinations,” McDonald told the transportation committee about expected money for bus replacements. “However, at this point in time, the negotiations between the federal and the provincial government are being conducted on Twitter messages, apparently, as you’ve seen in the media in the last couple of days.“So I have no idea when that money will be released at this point in time. The bilateral agreements have been signed, which is an excellent thing. But there are now details that are being debated back and forth between various different ministers of the federal and provincial governments.”Wyant and federal Liberal Public Safety Minister and Regina MP Ralph Goodale have used Twitter to explain their governments’ perspectives on the funding dispute.McDonald said upgrading Saskatoon’s bus fleet is estimated to cost $72 million over the next eight years, which would replace 60 buses at about $560,000 for a 12-metre bus. It could also pay to convert the bus fleet to electrical, he added.Lisa Danyluk, executive director of strategy and engagement with SaskBuilds, a provincial Crown corporation, said in an email Wednesday that the two Saskatoon projects were approved for federal funding on July 8.Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is trying to raise $4 million to build a permanent site at its current riverside location; the Gordie Howe Sports Complex is in the middle of a massive redevelopment that includes a new outdoor track facility.The Friends of the Bowl Foundation has raised $42 million of its $62-million goal.“We’ve been very successful with what we’ve built to date,” Friends of the Bowl chair Bryan Kosteroski said in an interview. “Any dollars are crucial.”According to the City of Saskatoon’s chief public policy and government relations officer, Mike Jordan, $20.9 million in government funding for Gordie Howe includes $8.36 million from the federal government, $6.96 million from the province and $5.58 million from the city and fundraising.For Shakespeare, funding includes $1.96 million (federal), $1.62 million (province) and $1.3 million (city/fundraising) for a total of $4.86 million.“The provincial government is prepared to contribute our share immediately upon federal approval to transfer their funding to move these projects ahead,” Danyluk said.The formula for shared infrastructure funding calls for up to one-third from the province and at least 40 per cent from the federal government.The other project affected is a renovation of Regina’s Globe Theatre, which is estimated to cost $29 million.The province has been approved for $307.9 million in transit infrastructure funding from the federal government and $56.2 million from a culture and recreation fund.Alan Long, director of marketing and development for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, declined to comment Wednesday. A sod-turning ceremony for the project is planned for Saturday.“We see our project as a valuable project, not only to Saskatoon, but to Saskatchewan and to Western Canada,” Kosteroski said of the sports complex upgrades.Wyant has suggested funding the three projects in Saskatoon and Regina would leave no federal dollars for other Saskatchewan communities seeking recreation and culture funding. Goodale has countered that funding the three projects would still leave most of the $56.2 million available for other firstname.lastname@example.org/thinktankSKRelated